Chargers Work To Defend Title In State Tournament This Week

The Pearl City baseball team’s greater task this week at the state baseball tournament is simply “to finish.”

Indeed, as the Chargers look to defend their state title from last year, closing out games remains a huge key, according to head coach Mitch Yamato.

“We have to be able to play strong for seven innings,” said Yamato, whose team enters the state tourney with a 9-6 record. “In some of our games, we haven’t. With pitching, we’ll have to be more precise with hitting our spots. Unfortunately, we’ve had some walks that have turned into runs lately. All aspects of our game have to improve this week.”

The team claimed two of three at the recent OIA tournament, posting wins against Castle and Kaiser, while losing to Moanalua. Close encounters have been the prevailing theme this year with seven of their games decided by a single run. The forecast is for more close games this week, as the field will include the state’s best.

“The kids understand that we need to play perfect baseball to win this week. The competition will get even better, no doubt, so they’re over having qualified for the tournament now and they’re refocusing on playing that perfect game.”

Yamato has liked his team’s depth since it first assembled in February, and it remains a strength heading into this week.

“This team is so balanced it is hard to single one out,” he said. “We’re counting on the returnees to step up and lead this team. They know the effort it takes to win four games (in as many days) at the tournament. They’ve been doing their job.”

Offensively, Pearl City tallied 13 runs in its three OIA tournament games. Manufacturing runs will be key. “We haven’t hit the ball as well as we think we should,” Yamato said, “so we’ve been taking some measures to work on (our offense). Hopefully, we’ll put some more runs up on the board.”

Pairings for this week’s tournament, which runs Tuesday through Friday (at the UH Manoa Murakami Stadium and at Iolani School), were to be revealed after press time.

The Chargers are 10-6 overall in state tournament games since 2007. They have made the final four on three occasions during that span. They were the state runner-up in 2007 and finished third in 2008 before winning the title last year.